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Differences In Six-Month Solargraphs

Does one six-month block (December-to-June versus June-to-December) yield better solargraph results than the other? You can compare two examples from the same site for guidance. The left image shows solar arcs between the solstices of December 2019 (low sun) to June 2020 (high sun); the right image shows the next six months from June 2020 (high sun) through December 2020 (low sun).

Solargraphs showing Dec 2019 to June 2020 (left) and June 2020 to Dec 2020

In a May 2020 shift from in-person to virtual, the Adler Planetarium hosted an online mini-conference for GLPA planetarians that concluded with my informal hands-on workshop 2020 Vision. We intended to wind down the day by making solargraphs out of beer cans that first needed to be emptied. My happy hour contribution did more to drag out the day than to educate, and it exemplified how a potentially engaging in-person activity can fall well short in an online format. However, someone asked the good question then that we can answer better now.

Between solstices in December 2019 and December 2020, the left solargraph shows the first half of the year and the right solargraph shows the second half. Below each image is a panorama view taken with a cell phone camera in Pan mode. The dominant features are the solar arcs, the foreground sundial gnomon, and the central tree.

You can be the judge of what is different and what is deemed better. Most notable is how leaves affect the solar arc. In the left image, the sun's path is well traced behind the upper branches during April, May, and June during the sun's seasonal climb in altitude. However, as the sun drops from it's peak in June and through July, August, and September, the tree leaves obscure the solar arcs. By November 2020 the arcs become well defined again.

We're all logy with 2020 burnished on our brains as that memorable year. The first cases of coronavirus were reported in China around the same day the solargraph exposure started in late December 2019. These two solargraphs are essentially a timestamp capturing Year One of COVID-19. A bleak year still yielded some sublime excerpts of nature.


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